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Transcript
GCSE
Astronomy
Specification
Edexcel GCSE in Astronomy (2AS01)
First examination 2011
Introduction
The Edexcel GCSE in Astronomy is designed for use in schools and colleges. It is part of
a suite of GCSE qualifications offered by Edexcel.
About this specification
It complements the Key Stage 4 science programme of study, for GCSE
Science and GCSE Additional Science. In the context of astronomy it supports
students’ understanding of How Science Works.
• It contributes to the post-16 curriculum, especially if studied alongside GCE
Physics or in the context of adult education.
• It enriches the science curriculum across the full ability range, but is also
suitable to provide stretch and challenge to gifted and talented students.
• Students will undertake practical observations when studying this qualification
and will collect first-hand data and make observations following the same
process as professional astronomers.
• There will be extensive support for teaching and learning for the internal and
external assessment and the delivery of the qualification.
The Edexcel GCSE in Astronomy is a QCA approved science qualification.
•
Key subject aims
This specification is aimed at students of all ages. The specification aims to give students
the opportunity to:
• develop their curiosity and enthusiasm for astronomy and to take an informed
interest in current astronomical investigations, discoveries and space
exploration
• acquire knowledge and understanding of astronomy theory and practice and the
skills needed to investigate a wide range of astronomy contexts
• appreciate that the study and practice of astronomy are co-operative and
cumulative activities and to appreciate the links between astronomy and other
branches of science
• promote an awareness that the study and practice of astronomy are subject to
economic, technical, ethical and cultural influences and limitations, and that the
applications of astronomy and space exploration may be both beneficial and
detrimental to the individual and the community
• enhance their science studies and learn about different aspects of science,
alongside their other science courses
• progress to further and higher education courses in the fields of astronomy or
physics.
Contents
Specification at a glance
1
A
Qualification content
3
Knowledge, skills and understanding
3
B
Knowledge and understanding
3
Skills
3
How Science Works
4
List of contents
5
Unit 1: Understanding the Universe
6
Topic 1 − Earth, Moon and Sun
6
Detailed content
7
Topic 2 − Planetary Systems
11
Detailed content
12
Topic 3 − Stars
17
Topic 4 − Galaxies and Cosmology
22
Unit 2: Exploring the Universe
27
Delivery of the controlled assessment
28
Assessment
37
Assessment summary
37
Assessment Objectives and weightings
38
Relationship of Assessment Objectives to units
38
Assessment Objectives descriptions
39
Entering your students for assessment
40
Student entry
40
Forbidden Combinations and Classification Code
40
Access arrangements and special requirements
41
Disability Discrimination Act (DDA)
41
Controlled assessment
42
Summary of conditions for controlled assessment
42
Internal standardisation
43
Authentication
43
Further information
43
Assessing your students
44
Awarding and reporting
44
Unit results
44
Qualification results
45
Resitting of units
45
C
D
Language of assessment
45
Quality of written communication
46
Stretch and challenge
46
Malpractice and plagiarism
46
Student recruitment
46
Progression
47
Grade descriptions
48
Resources, support and training
50
Edexcel resources
50
Edexcel publications
50
Endorsed resources
50
Edexcel support services
50
Training
51
Appendices
52
Appendix 1
Key skills
54
Appendix 2
Wider curriculum
55
Appendix 3
Codes
57
Appendix 4
How Science Works mapping
58
Appendix 5
Controlled assessment record sheet
60
Appendix 6
Mathematical skills, data and formulae
61
Specification at a glance
The Edexcel GCSE in Astronomy is comprised of two units
Unit 1: Understanding the Universe
*Unit code: 5AS01
• Externally assessed
75% of the
total GCSE
• Availability: June series
• First assessment: June 2011
Overview of content
This unit covers four topics:
• Earth, Moon and Sun
• Planetary Systems
• Stars
• Galaxies and Cosmology.
All topics include points in italics which relate to How Science Works. These give information on how our
knowledge and understanding of the Universe has improved. The points give details on how we observe and
explore the Universe. The details apply to the relevant astronomy content in each topic.
Overview of assessment
• One non-tiered 2-hour examination with 120 marks.
• The examination contains a variety of different question types, such as objective-test questions, short-and
extended-answer questions and graphical and data questions.
*See Appendix 3 for description of this code and all other codes relevant to this qualification.
Edexcel GCSE in Astronomy
Specification
© Edexcel Limited 2008
1
Unit 2: Exploring the Universe
*Unit code: 5AS02
• Internally assessed with controlled conditions
• Availability: June series
25% of the
total GCSE
• First assessment: June 2011
Overview of content
This unit focuses on observations. Students are required to complete two observation tasks: one aided and
one unaided. Aided observations take place with the use of equipment. Unaided observations are with the
naked eye.
The controlled assessment tasks will require students to cover the following areas:
• design
• observation
• analysis
• evaluation.
Overview of assessment
• Internally assessed with controlled conditions.
• Students complete two observations, each marked out of 20, with an overall mark of 40.
• These will be marked by the teacher and moderated by Edexcel using the assessment criteria provided on
page 34.
*See Appendix 3 for description of this code and all other codes relevant to this qualification.
2
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A
Qualification content
Knowledge, skills and understanding
Knowledge and understanding
This GCSE in Astronomy requires students to:
• demonstrate knowledge and understanding of astronomical
facts, concepts, techniques and terminology
• show understanding of how astronomical evidence is
collected and its relationship with the astronomical
explanations and theories
• show understanding of how astronomical knowledge and
ideas change over time and how these changes are
validated
• apply concepts and draw conclusions related to familiar
and unfamiliar situations
• show understanding of how decisions about astronomy are
made, including contemporary situations and those raising
ethical issues
• evaluate the impact of astronomical developments on
individuals, countries and the environment.
Skills
This GCSE in Astronomy provides students with the opportunity to develop the following
skills:
• plan an astronomical observation and carry it out safely and
skilfully
• analyse and interpret qualitative and quantitative data from
different sources
• evaluate the methods used when carrying out an
observation
• consider the validity and reliability of data in presenting
and justifying conclusions.
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How Science Works
This GCSE in Astronomy requires students to develop the skills, knowledge and
understanding of How Science Works, described as follows.
Data, evidence, theories and explanations
1 the collection and analysis of scientific data
2 the interpretation of data, using creative thought, to provide
evidence for testing ideas and developing theories
3 many phenomena can be explained by developing and using
scientific theories, models and ideas
4 there are some questions that science cannot currently answer and
some that science cannot address
Practical and enquiry skills
5 planning to test a scientific idea, answer a scientific question, or
solve a scientific problem
6 collecting data from primary or secondary sources, including the
use of ICT sources and tools
7 working accurately and safely, individually and with others,
when collecting first-hand data
8 evaluating methods of data collection and considering their
validity and reliability as evidence
Communication skills
9 recalling, analysing, interpreting, applying and questioning
scientific information or ideas
10 using both qualitative and quantitative approaches
11 presenting information, developing an argument and drawing a
conclusion, using scientific, technical and mathematical
language, conventions and symbols and ICT tools
Applications and implications of science
12 the use of contemporary science and technological developments
and their benefits, drawbacks and risks
13 how and why decisions about science and technology are made,
including those that raise ethical issues, and about the social,
economic and environmental effects of such decisions
14 how uncertainties in scientific knowledge and scientific ideas
change over time and the role of the scientific community in
validating these changes.
4
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List of contents
Unit 1: Understanding the Universe
Topic 1 − Earth, Moon and Sun
1.1 Planet Earth
1.2 The Moon
1.3 The Sun
1.4 Earth-Moon-Sun Interactions
Topic 2 − Planetary Systems
2.1 Our Solar System
2.2 Comets and Meteors
2.3 Solar System Discoveries
2.4 Exoplanets
Topic 3 − Stars
3.1 Constellations
3.2 Observing the Night Sky
3.3 Physical Properties of Stars
3.4 Evolution of Stars
Topic 4 − Galaxies and Cosmology
4.1 Our Galaxy – The Milky Way
4.2 Galaxies
4.3 Cosmology
Unit 2: Exploring the Universe
Based on content within Unit 1
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6
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8
9
10
11
12
14
15
16
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19
20
21
22
23
24
25
27
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Unit 1: Understanding the Universe
Assessment overview
This unit is assessed via a written examination, which is 2 hours long
and is marked out of 120.
All questions in the written examination are compulsory. There will
be a variety of question types, such as objective tests, short-answer
questions and extended-answer questions.
Topic 1 − Earth, Moon and Sun
Content overview
This topic deals with the Earth, the Moon and the Sun as separate
bodies and then as a system, illustrating the relationships between
them.
The Earth is treated as a body in its own right and then as an
observatory from where, and above which, astronomical observations
are carried out. The topic then introduces the Moon’s principal
features and their likely origins, and reflects on the continuing
exploration of the Moon and the scientific data being collected. The
Sun, our nearest star, can be observed from close quarters in all
regions of the electromagnetic spectrum. The solar surface,
atmospheric features and source of energy can be investigated.
The intimacy of the Earth and its key neighbours is illustrated by
concepts of time and its determination, lunar phases, eclipses and
aurorae.
The How Science Works aspects of GCSE Astronomy are indicated in
italics throughout the topic.
Please refer to Appendix 6 for more information on mathematical
skills, data and formulae.
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Detailed content
1.1 Planet Earth
Students will be assessed on their ability to:
a describe features of the Earth that distinguish it from other planets,
including its water surface and atmosphere
b relate the blue sky to the preferential scattering of light in its
atmosphere
c demonstrate an understanding of the benefits of the Earth’s
atmosphere to humankind
d describe some of the major causes of light pollution and
demonstrate an understanding of why it is undesirable to
astronomers
e describe how Eratosthenes made the first accurate calculation of
the circumference of the Earth
f recall the shape (oblate spheroid/flattened sphere) and diameter
(13 000 km) of the Earth
g describe the evidence that the Earth is approximately spherical
h recall the rotation period of the Earth (23 hours 56 minutes) and
the time to rotate through 1 degree (4 minutes)
i demonstrate an understanding of the terms: equator, tropics,
latitude, longitude, pole, horizon, meridian and zenith
j demonstrate an understanding of the drawbacks to astronomers of
the Earth’s atmosphere and relate these to the need for optical and
infra-red observatories to be sited on high mountains or in space
k describe the features of reflecting and reflecting telescopes
(detailed ray diagrams not needed)
l demonstrate an understanding of why the world’s largest
telescopes are reflectors rather than refractors
m demonstrate an understanding that the Earth’s atmosphere is
transparent to visible light, microwaves and some radio waves
n interpret data on the effect of the Earth’s atmosphere on infra-red,
ultra-violet and X-rays
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o describe where infra-red, ultra-violet and X-ray observatories are
sited and explain the reasons why
p describe the nature and discovery of the Van Allen Belts.
1.2 The Moon
Students will be assessed on their ability to:
a identify the Moon’s principal features, including the Sea of
Tranquility, Ocean of Storms, Sea of Crises, the craters Tycho,
Copernicus and Kepler, and the Apennine mountain range (Latin
names are acceptable)
b recall the Moon’s diameter (3 500 km) and its approximate
distance from Earth (380 000 km)
c recall that the Moon’s rotational period and orbital period are both
27.3 days
d demonstrate an understanding of why the far side of the Moon is
not visible from Earth
e describe how astronomers know the appearance of the Moon’s far
side and how it differs from the near side
f distinguish between the lunar seas (maria) and highlands (terrae)
g demonstrate an understanding of the origin of lunar seas and
craters
h demonstrate an understanding that the relative numbers of craters
in the seas and highlands implies different ages of these features
i describe the nature of rilles and wrinkle ridges
j relate the lack of atmosphere to the Moon’s low gravity
k describe the nature and purposes of the Apollo space programme
and its experimental packages (ALSEPs)
l describe the likely origin of the Moon (the giant impact
hypothesis)
m describe the evidence that allowed astronomers to develop the
giant impact hypothesis.
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1.3 The Sun
Students will be assessed on their ability to:
a demonstrate an understanding of how the Sun can be observed
safely by amateur astronomers
b recall the Sun’s diameter (1.4 million km) and its distance from
Earth (150 million km)
c recall the temperature of the Sun’s photosphere (5 800 K)
d describe the solar atmosphere (chromosphere and corona) and
recall the approximate temperature of the corona (2 million K)
e describe the appearance and explain the nature of sunspots
f recall that the Sun’s rotation period varies from 25 days at the
equator to 36 days at its poles
g demonstrate an understanding of how astronomers use
observations of sunspots to determine the Sun’s rotation period
h interpret data (for example a Butterfly Diagram) in order to
describe the long-term latitude drift of sunspots, determine the
length of the solar cycle and predict the year of the next solar
maximum
i demonstrate an understanding that the Sun’s energy is generated
by nuclear fusion reactions at its core, converting hydrogen into
helium
j describe how astronomers observe the Sun at different
wavelengths
k demonstrate an understanding of the appearance of the Sun at
different wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum, including
visible, H-alpha, X-ray
l describe the structure and nature of the solar wind.
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1.4 Earth-Moon-Sun Interactions
Students will be assessed on their ability to:
a demonstrate an understanding that the Moon and Sun appear to be
the same size when viewed from Earth
b recall the period of the lunar phase cycle (29.5 days)
c demonstrate an understanding of lunar phases and deduce the lunar
phase cycle from given data
d use diagrams to explain why the lunar phase cycle is (2.2 days)
longer than the orbit period of the Moon
e describe the appearance of partial and total solar and lunar eclipses
f describe, using diagrams, the mechanisms causing solar and lunar
eclipses
g demonstrate an understanding that the duration of total solar and
lunar eclipses are different and that they do not occur every new
and full Moon
h describe the terms ‘solar day’ and ‘sidereal day’
i explain why a solar day is longer than a sidereal day
j interpret simple shadow stick data to determine local noon and
observer’s longitude
k describe how a sundial can be used to determine time
l interpret charts and diagrams showing the variation in daylight
length during a year
m demonstrate an understanding that there are seasonal variations in
the rising and setting of the Sun
n demonstrate an understanding of the terms ‘apparent Sun’ and
‘mean Sun’
o demonstrate an understanding of the term ‘equation of time’
(apparent solar time − mean solar time) and perform simple
calculations
p describe aurorae and recall from where on Earth they are most
likely to be observed
q explain how aurorae are caused.
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Edexcel GCSE in Astronomy
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Topic 2 − Planetary Systems
Content overview
This topic explores the Solar System, examining its lesser-known
bodies in addition to the major planets. There are opportunities in this
topic to discuss the similarities and differences between individual
bodies and to compare the atmospheres of Earth and Venus regarding
global warming. The topic emphasises the importance of space
exploration and explores the threat and possible consequences of a
serious collision between the Earth and an impactor.
The Solar System is also studied from an historical viewpoint,
exploring the discovery of outer planets and appreciating the
telescopic discoveries of Galileo.
Evidence for exoplanets surrounding other stars provides fuel for
reigniting inevitable questions such as ‘Are we alone in the
Universe?’ and the techniques and limitations of searching for life
and habitable planets are explored.
The How Science Works aspects of GCSE Astronomy are given in
italics throughout the topic.
Please refer to Appendix 6 for more information on mathematical
skills, data and formulae.
Edexcel GCSE in Astronomy
Specification
© Edexcel Limited 2008
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Detailed content
2.1 Our Solar System
Students will be assessed on their ability to:
a describe the location and nature of the main constituents of our
Solar System, including planets, dwarf planets, asteroids, comets,
centaurs and Trans-Neptunian Objects (TNOs)
b recall the names of planets and dwarf planets in order of their
mean distance from the Sun
c demonstrate an understanding of the scale and size of our Solar
System using scale models (for example balls of different sizes at
appropriate spacing, model Solar Systems such as the Spaced Out
project)
d recall that the ecliptic is the plane of the Earth’s orbit around the
Sun
e demonstrate an understanding that one astronomical unit (AU) is
the mean distance between the Earth and Sun.
f recall that planets move in elliptical orbits, slightly inclined to the
ecliptic
g demonstrate an understanding that the planets appear to move
within a band called the Zodiac
h demonstrate an understanding of the direct and retrograde motion
of planets on a star chart
i demonstrate an understanding of the terms: perihelion, aphelion,
greatest elongation, conjunction, opposition, transit and occultation
j describe the main physical characteristics of the planets (including
surface features, atmosphere, temperature and composition)
k discuss how the atmosphere of Venus can be used to illustrate the
danger of extreme global warming.
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l describe how astronomers use space probes to gain data on the
characteristics of planets and other bodies in the Solar System
m demonstrate an understanding of some of the problems that would
be encountered by a manned exploration of our Solar System
n demonstrate an understanding that some planets have satellite
systems with a variety of origins and structures (including Mars
and Neptune)
o describe the appearance, physical nature and composition of
planetary ring systems.
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© Edexcel Limited 2008
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2.2 Comets and Meteors
Students will be assessed on their ability to:
a describe cometary orbits and distinguish them from planetary
orbits
b describe the location and nature of the Kuiper Belt and Oort Cloud
and show an appreciation of their associations with comets
c describe some of the evidence for the existence of the Oort Cloud
d identify the nucleus, coma, dust and ion tails of comets
e demonstrate an understanding that the tails of comets develop
when relatively close to the Sun
f demonstrate an understanding of the mechanisms for the
development of cometary dust and ion tails
g describe the nature and origin of meteoroids, meteorites and
micrometeorites
h demonstrate an understanding of meteors, fireballs and annual
meteor showers
i relate the occurrence of annual meteor showers to cometary orbits
and account for their apparent divergence from a radiant point
j describe the orbits of Potentially Hazardous Objects (PHOs)
k demonstrate an appreciation of the need to monitor the motion of
PHOs
l demonstrate an appreciation of the potential consequences of a
collision between an impactor and the Earth
m describe how astronomers gather evidence of impacts between
bodies within the Solar System and consider their effects.
14
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2.3 Solar System Discoveries
Students will be assessed on their ability to:
a describe the contribution of Copernicus, Tycho and Kepler to our
understanding of the Solar System
b illustrate Kepler’s second law of planetary motion with the aid of a
diagram
c demonstrate an understanding of Kepler’s third law relating
planetary distances to orbital periods and perform simple
calculations using the formula:
T2 = R 3
where T is in years and R is in AU
d recall the main astronomical discoveries of Galileo related to the
Solar System:
i
phases and apparent size of Venus
ii
relief features of the Moon
iii principal satellites of Jupiter (Callisto, Europa,
Ganymede, Io)
e describe the discoveries of Ceres, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto and
the techniques involved
f demonstrate an understanding that gravity is the force responsible
for maintaining orbits and its inverse square law nature.
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2.4 Exoplanets
Students will be assessed on their ability to:
a describe how astronomers obtain evidence for the existence of
exoplanets (including astrometry, transit observations and use of
Doppler-shifts)
b discuss the difficulties associated with the detection of individual
planets
c demonstrate an understanding that the presence of liquid water is
probably an essential requirement for life
d describe the present theories about the origin of water on Earth
e describe methods used by astronomers to determine the origin of
water on Earth (for example analysis of water on a comet by the
Rosetta probe)
f demonstrate an understanding of the individual factors contained
in the Drake Equation and their implications for the existence of
life elsewhere in our Galaxy
g demonstrate an understanding of the existence and significance of
habitable zones/Goldilocks zones
h describe some of the methods that astronomers use to obtain
evidence for life (past or present) elsewhere in our Solar System
i discuss the possible benefits and dangers of discovering extraterrestrial life.
16
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Topic 3 − Stars
Content overview
This topic begins with a tour of the night sky, exploring
constellations, clusters, nebulae, galaxies and other wonders visible
with the naked eye in clear conditions. The terminology and
techniques that astronomers need to plan and carry out meaningful
observing sessions are introduced within this topic.
Stars are then studied from a more physical point of view,
spectroscopy-featuring as an essential and versatile tool for
astronomers. Stellar evolution is explored, including end-states such
as supernova, neutron stars and black holes. The Hertzsprung-Russell
(HR) diagram, magnitude scale and methods of determining stellar
distances are examined.
The How Science Works aspects of GCSE Astronomy are given in
italics throughout the topic.
Please refer to Appendix 6 for more information on mathematical
skills, data and formulae.
Edexcel GCSE in Astronomy
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Detailed content
3.1 Constellations
Students will be assessed on their ability to:
a describe the appearance of stars, double stars, asterisms,
constellations, open clusters, nebulae and globular clusters in the
night sky
b demonstrate an understanding of how stars within a constellation
are labelled according to brightness (using Greek letters α to ε)
c demonstrate an awareness of how the official list of constellations
became established and cultural differences in this list
d recognise and draw the Plough, Orion, Cygnus and Cassiopeia
e demonstrate the use of ‘pointers’ and other techniques to find
other celestial objects, including:
i
Arcturus and Polaris from the Plough
ii
Sirius, Aldebaran and the Pleiades from Orion
iii Fomalhaut and the Andromeda Galaxy from the Great
Square of Pegasus
f demonstrate an understanding that some constellations are visible
from a given latitude throughout the year, but others are seasonal.
18
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3.2 Observing the Night Sky
Students will be assessed on their ability to:
a demonstrate an understanding of the terms ‘right ascension’ and
‘declination’
b recall the declination of Polaris (+90 degrees) and explain why
Polaris appears fixed in the night sky
c demonstrate an understanding that the elevation of Polaris above
the northern horizon is equal to the latitude of the observer
d describe what is meant by the term ‘circumpolar stars’ and explain
the connection between the apparent motion of stars and the
Earth’s rotation
e demonstrate an understanding that a star will be circumpolar from
a given latitude provided declination > 90 – latitude
f analyse and interpret long-exposure photographs of star trails to
determine the rotation period of the Earth
g demonstrate the use of a planisphere, star chart or computer
software in order to plan an observing session
h demonstrate an understanding of the terms ‘ecliptic’ and ‘zodiacal
band’ on a star chart
i plan the equipment needed for a naked-eye observation session
(red torch, clipboard, pencil/rubber, warm clothes)
j demonstrate an awareness of naked-eye observing techniques
(dark-adapted eye, relaxed eye and averted vision)
k demonstrate an awareness of, and use in a qualitative way, the
Messier Catalogue
l explain the apparent east-west motion of the night sky
m recall that stars cross the observer’s meridian and culminate when
they are due south
n use star data and charts to determine the time at which a star will
cross the observer’s meridian.
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3.3 Physical Properties of Stars
Students will be assessed on their ability to:
a demonstrate an understanding that stars in a constellation are not
physically related but that stars in a cluster are associated
gravitationally
b distinguish between optical double stars and binary stars
c demonstrate an understanding of the apparent magnitude scale and
how it relates to observed brightness of stars
d use the scale of apparent magnitude
e describe the method of heliocentric parallax to determine
distances to nearby stars
f recall the definition of one parsec (pc)
g recall the definition of absolute magnitude
h demonstrate an understanding of the inverse square law nature of
the intensity of light
i demonstrate an understanding of, and perform simple calculations
involving, apparent magnitude (m), absolute magnitude (M) and
distance (d in pc), using this formula:
M = m + 5 - 5 log d
involving powers of 10 only (students are not required to calculate
d using this equation, only M and m)
j identify a Cepheid variable star from its light curve and deduce its
period
k explain how Cepheid variables can be used to determine distance
l identify a binary star from the light curve and deduce its period
m explain the causes of variability in the light curve of a binary star
n demonstrate an understanding of what information can be
obtained from a spectrum, including chemical composition,
temperature and radial velocity
o demonstrate an understanding of how stars can be classified
according to their spectral type
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p demonstrate an understanding that a star’s colour is related to its
temperature
q sketch and recognise the main components of the HertzsprungRussell diagram (HR diagram).
3.4 Evolution of Stars
Students will be assessed on their ability to:
a associate the stages of evolution of a star:
i
with a solar mass
ii
with a much greater mass
with the components of the HR diagram
b demonstrate an understanding that emission nebulae, absorption
nebulae and open clusters are associated with the birth of stars
c demonstrate an understanding that planetary nebulae and
supernovae are associated with the death of stars
d describe the nature of neutron stars and black holes
e describe how astronomers obtain evidence for the existence of
neutron stars and black holes.
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Topic 4 − Galaxies and Cosmology
Content overview
In this topic students begin in our own Galaxy, exploring its shape
and structure and examining how astronomers determine them. The
distance scale increases as additional galaxies and clusters of galaxies
are introduced.
The topic concludes with a study of the large-scale structure and
evolution of the Universe. Cosmological models regarding the
Universe’s past and future are discussed, and concepts such as the
nature and significance of dark matter and dark energy feature in this
less-certain aspect of the subject.
The How Science Works aspects of GCSE Astronomy are given in
italics throughout the topic.
Please refer to Appendix 6 for more information on mathematical
skills, data and formulae.
22
Edexcel GCSE in Astronomy
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Detailed content
4.1 Our Galaxy − the Milky Way
Students will be assessed on their ability to:
a describe the appearance of the Milky Way as seen with the naked
eye and with binoculars or a small telescope
b demonstrate an understanding that the observed Milky Way forms
the plane of our own Galaxy
c demonstrate an understanding of the size and shape of our Galaxy
and the location of the Sun, dust, sites of star formation and
globular clusters
d demonstrate an understanding of how astronomers use 21 cm
radio waves rather than visible light to determine the rotation of
our Galaxy.
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4.2 Galaxies
Students will be assessed on their ability to:
a demonstrate an understanding of the appearance of spiral, barred
spiral, elliptical and irregular galaxies
b draw Hubble’s Tuning Fork diagram
c recall that the Milky Way is an Sb type galaxy
d use images of galaxies in order to classify them
e demonstrate an understanding that some galaxies emit large
quantities of radiation in addition to visible light (for example
radio waves, X-rays)
f demonstrate an understanding that an Active Galactic Nucleus
(AGN) is powered by matter falling onto a super-massive black
hole
g recall the types of active galaxies, including Seyfert galaxies,
blazers, quasars
h demonstrate an understanding that astronomers use many regions
of the electromagnetic spectrum to obtain evidence for the
existence and properties of AGNs
i describe the Local Group of galaxies
j recall the names of some galaxies in the Local Group, including
the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, Andromeda Galaxy
(M31) and the Triangulum Galaxy (M33)
k demonstrate an understanding that galaxies are grouped in larger
clusters and superclusters.
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4.3 Cosmology
Students will be assessed on their ability to:
a recall the Doppler principle for radial velocities
b demonstrate an understanding that light from distant galaxies is
shifted to longer wavelengths (redshift)
c use the equation:
λ − λ0 v
=
λ0
c
to determine the radial velocity of a galaxy
d demonstrate an understanding that for galaxies in the Local Group
blueshift is possible
e recall that quasars are distant galaxies with high redshifts
f describe the discovery of quasars by astronomers
g demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between distance
and redshift of distant galaxies (Hubble’s Law) and use the
formula:
v = Hd
h describe how astronomers use the value of the Hubble Constant to
determine the age of the Universe
i demonstrate an understanding of the existence and significance of
cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation
j describe how CMB radiation was discovered
k describe recent observations of CMB radiation, including the
Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP), and their
significance to cosmologists
l demonstrate an understanding of the possible nature and
significance of dark matter
m demonstrate an understanding of the significance of dark energy
n demonstrate an understanding of the observational evidence for an
expanding Universe
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o demonstrate an understanding of the past evolution of the Universe
and the main arguments in favour of the Big Bang
p demonstrate an awareness of the different evolutionary models of
the Universe (past and future) and why cosmologists are unable to
agree on a model.
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Unit 2: Exploring the Universe
Overview
Assessment overview
This unit is assessed through internal assessment with controlled
conditions. Students must complete one unaided and one aided
observational task. These tasks must be chosen from the lists
provided by Edexcel, in this document. The write up of the
observation report must take place under controlled conditions.
Each task will be marked out of 20, with a total mark of 40 for the
two tasks, across the following areas:
• design (5 marks)
• observation (5 marks)
• analysis (5 marks)
• evaluation (5 marks).
The observation report will be marked by teachers and externally
moderated by Edexcel.
Observation overview
Observations are a fundamental part of astronomy. The design of the
observations must be planned to ensure that the subject of study is
visible at the time and location. Analysis of the observational data
and images has helped astronomers to discover more about our
Universe and how it works. Evaluation of each observation is
important to ensure that future observations take into account any
problems encountered.
These observations link to the content studied in Unit 1:
Understanding the Universe.
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Delivery of the controlled assessment
Observation tasks
The tasks for this controlled assessment will be reviewed on a twoyearly cycle. Tasks may be removed or new tasks added. Please
check our website for information on changes.
Centres can contextualise these tasks for their local area. Teachers
can carry out assessment of tasks at any time during the period of
study leading to the GCSE examination.
Students must complete two pieces of observational work. One
unaided observation and one aided observation.
•
Unaided observations are either naked eye, or with the use of
rudimentary equipment (for example shadow sticks).
Aided observations are undertaken with the use of binoculars,
telescopes or robotic telescopes.
The two observational tasks have an equal weighting of 20 marks
each.
Students cannot select both their observational tasks from the same
row in the observation task table. For example, not A1 and B1, A2
and B2 etc.
Aspects of the observation and report
Design
•
Planning the most appropriate observing programme for the chosen
task, including observing sites, times, instruments needed, and the
need for any repeat observations.
Observation
The record of the range of observations taken, including any
drawings of the objects observed, details of the observing session
(weather conditions, location etc).
Analysis
The conclusions drawn from the observational data collected, related
to the observational task chosen.
Evaluation
An evaluation of the data collected in the observation and suggestions
for improvements or extensions to further observations.
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Suggested timings of each aspect
Design
2 hours
Observation
dependent on task selected
Analysis
2 hours
Evaluation
2 hours
This gives 6 hours’ classroom time plus observation time per task,
which equals a total of 12 hours’ classroom time plus observation
time for the whole unit.
Controlled conditions
The preparation and writing of the observation reports must take
place under controlled conditions. Students must write their reports
only in lessons, supervised by a teacher. The write up may take place
over several lessons, students’ materials must be collected in at the
end of the lesson and handed back at the beginning of the next lesson.
Students’ reports must be produced individually.
Levels of control
Internal assessment with controlled conditions has levels of control
for task setting, task taking and task marking.
Task setting – high level of control
Tasks will be set by Edexcel and centres will choose from a list
of tasks.
Task taking
a Observations – limited level of control
Observations will be carried out under limited control, including
possible night-time unsupervised observations.
b Design, analysis and evaluation − high level of control
The design of the observation sessions and the writing of the
report, including any analysis and evaluation, will take place
under high levels of control, in centres.
Task marking − medium level of control
The marking of the tasks will be carried out by teachers and
externally moderated by Edexcel.
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Quality of written communication (QWC)
Opportunities for QWC have been identified within the assessment
criteria, including the ability to:
• present relevant information in a form that suits its purpose
• ensure that text is legible and that spelling, punctuation and
grammar are accurate, so that meaning is clear
• use a suitable structure and style of writing
• use specialist vocabulary when appropriate.
Health and safety
Attention is drawn to the need for safe practice when students carry
out observation tasks. Relevant advice can be obtained from
CLEAPPS. Risk assessments must be carried out for all observing
tasks. It is the responsibility of the centre to carry out all risk
assessments, to ensure that they are appropriate for their students,
equipment and conditions.
Of particular concern is are any observation of the Sun and the Moon.
The Sun must not be viewed directly, either with or without optical
aids. If the Moon is observed directly using a telescope at high
magnification then a student’s ability to make further observations
directly afterwards is impaired.
Health and safety is a particular concern throughout all of the
observation tasks, but particularly in A3, B3, A8 and B8, which
are concerned with observing phenomena related to the Sun.
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Observation task lists
Students cannot select both their observational tasks from the same row in the observation
task table. For example, not A1 and B1, A2 and B2 etc.
Unaided observations
Choose one task from this list.
A1 Lunar Features
Aided observations
Choose one task from this list.
B1 Lunar Features
Produce a series of naked-eye drawings
of three lunar surface features. Use
them to show their changing appearance
at different lunar phases.
A2
Produce a series of telescopic
drawings and/or photographs of three
lunar surface features. Use them to
show their changing appearance at
different lunar phases.
B2
Meteor Shower
Observe a meteor shower. Record
meteor trails on a drawing of the stellar
background from sketches and estimate
magnitudes of the meteors. Locate and
show the position of the radiant.
A3
Drawings of Lunar or Solar Eclipse
Use long-exposure photography to
obtain photographs of a meteor
shower. Estimate magnitudes of the
meteors. Locate and show the position
of the radiant.
B3
Using a suitable method of observation
(lunar – direct, solar – pinhole
projection), produce a series of
drawings showing the progress of a
lunar or solar eclipse.
Observe and make detailed drawings of
three different constellations, recording
dates, times, seeing and weather
conditions and noting colours (if
possible) and magnitudes by
comparison with reference stars.
Edexcel GCSE in Astronomy
WARNING: The Sun must NOT be
viewed directly, with or without
optical aids.
B4
Constellation Drawings
Specification
Photographs of Lunar or Solar
Eclipse
Using a suitable method of
observation (lunar – direct, solar –
projection), produce a series of
photographs showing the progress of a
lunar or solar eclipse.
WARNING: The Sun must NOT be
viewed directly, with or without
optical aids.
A4
Meteor Shower Photography
Constellation Photography
Produce photographs of three different
constellations, recording dates, times,
seeing and weather conditions. Use the
photographs to identify colours and
magnitudes by comparison with
reference stars.
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Unaided observations
Choose one task from this list.
A5 Drawings of Celestial Event
Produce a series of drawings to record
the passage of a suitable celestial event,
for example a transit, occultation or
comet.
A6
Aided observations
Choose one task from this list.
B5 Telescopic Drawings or
Photographs of Celestial Event
Produce a series of detailed telescopic
drawings or photographs to record the
passage of a suitable celestial event,
for example a transit, occultation or
comet.
B6
Shadow Stick
Use a shadow stick to record the
direction of the Sun at different times
on at least two days and hence
determine (a) the time of local noon and
(b) the observer’s longitude.
A7
On at least three widely-spaced dates,
compare the time shown on a
correctly-aligned sundial with local
mean time. Use these data to
determine the accuracy of the sundial
used.
B7
Levels of Light Pollution
Use repeated observations of the
faintest stars observable to quantify the
effect of light pollution at two different
sites.
A8
WARNING: The Sun must NOT be
viewed directly, with or without
optical aids.
Use a series of naked-eye estimates of
the magnitude of a suitable variable star
over a sufficient period of time to
determine the period of the star.
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Edexcel GCSE in Astronomy
WARNING: The Sun must NOT be
viewed directly, with or without
optical aids.
B9
Light Curve of a Variable Star
Specification
Sunspots
Use a small telescope to project an
image of the Sun onto a suitable
background and observe and record
sunspots over a sufficiently long period
of time to determine the Sun’s rotation
period.
Use a pinhole to project an image of the
Sun onto a suitable background and
observe and record sunspots over a
sufficiently long period of time to
determine the Sun’s rotation period.
A9
Photographic Measurement of
Levels of Light Pollution
Use the magnitudes of the faintest
stars visible in long exposure
photographs to quantify the effect of
light pollution at two different sites.
B8
Sunspots
Sundial
Light Curve of a Variable Star
Use a series of telescopic estimates of
the magnitude of a suitable variable star
over a sufficient period of time to
determine the period of the star.
© Edexcel Limited 2008
Unaided observations
Choose one task from this list.
A10 Estimating Stellar Density
Aided observations
Choose one task from this list.
B10 Measuring Stellar Density
By counting the numbers of visible
stars within a certain area of sky,
estimate and compare the density of
stars in the sky, parallel with and
perpendicular to the plane of the Milky
Way.
Use binocular/telescopic observations
or original photographs to measure
and compare the density of stars in the
sky, parallel with and perpendicular to
the plane of the Milky Way.
B11 Drawings of Messier Objects
Use binoculars/telescope/robotic
telescope to produce detailed drawings
and/or photographs of at least three
Messier/NGC objects.
B12 Measuring the Sidereal Day
Take long-exposure photographs of the
circumpolar stars around Polaris or the
south celestial pole and use them to
determine the length of the sidereal day.
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Assessment criteria
Teachers must mark the student’s work using the assessment criteria
specified below. Teachers should check carefully that the students’
work is their own and is not copied from source material without any
attempt by the students to put the material in their own words.
Each observational task (both aided and unaided) should be awarded
a mark out of five in each of the design, observation, analysis and
evaluation strands.
Design
Mark range
Descriptor
0
No procedure designed.
1
Outline a simple procedure for the observations, using basic
astronomical terminology.
2-3
Astronomical knowledge and understanding used to decide on the most
appropriate site, time, equipment for observations.
Spelling, punctuation and grammar used with reasonable accuracy.
Limited use of astronomical terminology.
4-5
Detailed astronomical knowledge and understanding used to design the
most appropriate observing programme with a range of sites, times and
instruments evaluated.
Spelling, punctuation and grammar used with considerable accuracy.
Good range of astronomical terminology used correctly.
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Observation
Mark range
Descriptor
0
No observations completed.
1
Simple observations completed, providing some data.
A few observational details included.
2-3
Sound observations completed and recorded, providing adequate data
for the task.
Clear and accurate observational details included.
4-5
Excellent programme of observations completed and recorded,
providing conclusive data for the task.
Full observational details included clearly and accurately.
Analysis
Mark range
Descriptor
0
No analysis on the observations.
1
Simple comments on what is shown by the observations, using basic
astronomical terminology.
2-3
Conclusions or calculations derived from observational data used to
address the task set.
Spelling, punctuation and grammar used with reasonable accuracy.
Limited use of astronomical terminology.
4-5
Full analysis of the observational data, resulting in clear conclusions
related to the task set.
Spelling, punctuation and grammar used with considerable accuracy.
Good range of astronomical terminology used correctly.
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Evaluation
Mark range
Descriptor
0
No evaluation of the observation.
1
Simple comment on the accuracy of the observations, using basic
astronomical terminology.
2-3
Supported statement of the accuracy of the observational data obtained.
Feasible suggestions for improvements or extensions to the
observations.
Spelling, punctuation and grammar used with reasonable accuracy.
Limited use of astronomical terminology.
4-5
Clearly reasoned quantitative assessment of the accuracy of the
observational data obtained.
Detailed suggestions for improvements or extensions to the
observations.
Spelling, punctuation and grammar used with considerable accuracy.
Good range of astronomical terminology used correctly.
Marks for both the unaided and aided observation tasks should be recorded on the Controlled
Assessment Record Sheet found in Appendix 5.
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B
Assessment
Assessment summary
Unit 1 is externally assessed through an examination paper lasting 2hours.
Unit 2 is internally assessed with controlled conditions.
Summary of table of assessment
Unit 1: Understanding the Universe
Unit code: 5AS01
One non-tiered 2-hour examination, with 120 marks.
The examination will contain a variety of different question types, such as objective-test questions, short- and
extended-answer questions, graphical and data questions.
Unit 2: Exploring the Universe
Unit code: 5AS02
This is internally assessed with controlled conditions. Students are required to complete two observation
tasks: one unaided and one aided.
The controlled assessment tasks will require students to cover the following areas:
• design
• observation
• analysis
• evaluation.
These will be marked to the assessment criteria by teachers and moderated by Edexcel. Each observation is
marked out of 20, with a total mark of 40 for this assessment.
The suggested time to complete each observation is 6 hours plus the time required to complete the
observations. This gives a total of 12 hours for both tasks, in addition to the required observation times.
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Assessment Objectives and weightings
% in
GCSE
AO1: Knowledge and understanding of science and how science works
31-40%
AO2: Application of skills, knowledge and understanding
31-40%
AO3: Practical, enquiry and data-handling skills
21-30%
TOTAL
100%
Relationship of Assessment Objectives to units
Assessment objective
AO1
AO2
AO3
Total for AO1,
AO2 and AO3
Unit 1: Understanding
the Universe
27-36%
25-34%
6-15%
75%
Unit 2: Exploring the
Universe
4%
6%
15%
25%
Total for GCSE
31-40%
31-40%
21-30%
100%
Unit number
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Assessment Objectives descriptions
AO1: Knowledge and understanding of science and how science works
Students should be able to:
a demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the scientific facts,
concepts, techniques and terminology in the specification
b show understanding of how scientific evidence is collected and
its relationship with scientific explanations and theories
c show understanding of how scientific knowledge and ideas
change over time and how these changes are validated.
AO2: Application of skills, knowledge and understanding
Students should be able to:
a apply concepts, develop arguments or draw conclusions related to
familiar and unfamiliar situations
b plan a scientific task, such as a practical procedure, testing an
idea, answering a question, or solving a problem
c show understanding of how decisions about science and
technology are made to different situations, including
contemporary situations and those raising ethical issues
d evaluate the impact of scientific developments or processes on
individuals, communities or the environment.
AO3: Practical, enquiry and data-handling skills
Students should be able to:
a carry out practical tasks safely and skilfully
b evaluate the methods they use when collecting first-hand and
secondary data
c analyse and interpret qualitative and quantitative data from
different sources
d consider the validity and reliability of data in presenting and
justifying conclusions.
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Entering your students for assessment
Student entry
Details of how to enter students for this qualification can be found in
Edexcel’s Information Manual, a copy is sent to all examinations
officers every year. The information can also be found on Edexcel’s
website: www.edexcel.org.uk
Students studying this unitised GCSE qualifications are required to
complete at least 40 per cent of the overall assessment requirements
as terminal assessment.
Forbidden Combinations and Classification Code
Centres should be aware that students who enter for more than one
GCSE qualification with the same classification code will have only
one grade (the highest) counted for the purpose of the School and
College Performance Tables.
Students should be advised that, if they take two specifications with
the same classification code, schools and colleges are very likely to
take the view that they have achieved only one of the two GCSEs.
The same view may be taken if students take two GCSE
specifications that have different classification codes but have
significant overlap of content. Students who have any doubts about
their subject combinations should check with the institution to which
they wish to progress before embarking on their programmes.
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Access arrangements and special requirements
Edexcel's policy on access arrangements and special considerations
for GCE, GCSE, and Entry Level aims to enhance access to the
qualifications for students with disabilities and other difficulties (as
defined by the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and the
amendments to the Act) without compromising the assessment of
skills, knowledge, understanding or competence.
Please see the Edexcel website (www.edexcel.org.uk/sfc) for:
• the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) policy Access
Arrangements and Special Considerations, Regulations and
Guidance Relating to students who are Eligible for
Adjustments in Examinations.
• the forms to submit for requests for access arrangements
and special considerations
• dates for submission of the forms.
Requests for access arrangements and special considerations must be
addressed to:
Special Requirements
Edexcel
One90 High Holborn
London WC1V 7BH
Disability Discrimination Act (DDA)
Please see our website (www.edexcel.org.uk/sfc) for information with
regard to the Disability Discrimination Act.
Students who have a total visual impairment can opt to take
alternative controlled assessment tasks. These assessment tasks would
not require the students to make any observations. They would focus
more on showing their understanding of how to design and carry out
an observation session and through more analysis and evaluation.
This option is available only for students with total visual
impairment.
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Controlled assessment
In controlled assessments, control levels are set for three linked
processes: task setting, task taking and task marking. The control
levels (high, medium or limited are dependent on the subject) are set
for each process so that the overall level of control secures validity
and reliability, provides good manageability for all involved and
allows teachers to authenticate the student’s work confidently.
The summary of the controlled conditions for this specification is
given below.
Summary of conditions for controlled assessment
The preparation and writing of the observation reports must take
place under controlled conditions. Students will be allowed to write
their reports only in a lesson, supervised by a teacher. The write up
will take place over several lessons, so the student’s materials must
be collected in at the end of the lesson and handed back at the
beginning of the next lesson. Students’ reports must be produced
individually.
Internal assessment with controlled conditions has levels of control
for task setting, task taking and task marking.
Task setting – high level of control
Tasks will be set by Edexcel and centres will choose from a list
of the tasks.
Task taking
a Observations – limited level of control
Observations will be carried out under limited control, including
possible night-time unsupervised observations.
b Design, analysis and evaluation − high level of control
The design of the observation sessions and the writing of the
report, including any analysis and evaluation, will take place
under high levels of control, in centres.
Task marking − medium level of control
The marking of the tasks will be carried out by teachers and
moderated by Edexcel.
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Internal standardisation
Teachers must show clearly how the marks have been awarded in
relation to the assessment criteria. If more than one teacher in a centre
is marking students’ work, there must be a process of internal
standardisation to ensure that there is consistent application of the
assessment criteria.
Authentication
All students must sign an authentication statement. Statements
relating to work not sampled should be held securely in the centre.
Authentication statements which relate to sampled students must be
attached to the work and sent to the moderator. In accordance with a
revision to the current Code of Practice, any candidate unable to
provide an authentication statement will receive zero credit for the
component. Where credit has been awarded by a centre-assessor to
sampled work without an accompanying authentication statement, the
moderator will inform Edexcel and the mark will be adjusted to zero.
Further information
For more information on annotation, authentication, mark submission
and moderation procedures, please refer to the Edexcel GCSE in
Astronomy: Instructions and administrative documentation for
internally assessed units document, which is available on our
website.
For up-to-date advice on teacher involvement, please refer to the
Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) Instructions for conducting
coursework/portfolio document on the JCQ website: www.jcq.org.uk.
For up-to-date advice on malpractice and plagiarism, please refer to
the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) Suspected Malpractice in
Examinations: Policies and Procedures and Instructions for
conducting coursework/portfolio documents on the JCQ website
(www.jcq.org.uk).
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Assessing your students
The first assessment opportunity for Unit 1 and Unit 2 of this
qualification will take place in the June 2011 series and in each
following June series for the lifetime of this specification.
Your student assessment opportunities
Unit
June 2011
June 2012
June 2013
June 2014
Unit 1: Understanding the
Universe
9
9
9
9
Unit 2: Exploring the Universe
9
9
9
9
Awarding and reporting
The grading, awarding and certification of this qualification will
comply with the requirements of the current GCSE/GCE Code of
Practice for courses starting in September 2009, which is published
by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority. The GCSE
qualification will be graded and certificated on an eight-grade scale
from A* to G. Individual unit results will be reported.
The first certification opportunity for the Edexcel GCSE in
Astronomy will be June 2011.
Students whose level of achievement is below the minimum judged
by Edexcel to be of sufficient standard to be recorded on a certificate
will receive an unclassified U result.
Unit results
The minimum uniform marks required for each grade for each unit:
Unit 1
Unit grade
*A
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
Maximum uniform mark = 150
135
120
105
90
75
60
45
30
Students who do not achieve the standard required for a grade G will
receive a uniform mark in the range 0–29.
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Unit 2
Unit grade
*A
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
Maximum uniform mark = 50
45
40
35
30
25
20
15
10
Students who do not achieve the standard required for a grade G will
receive a uniform mark in the range 0–9.
Qualification results
GCSE in Astronomy Cash-in code: 2AS01
Qualification grade
*A
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
Maximum uniform mark = 200
180
160
140
120
100
80
60
40
Students who do not achieve the standard required for a grade G will
receive a uniform mark in the range 0–39.
Resitting of units
Students can resit the assessment requirements for an internal and
external unit once before claiming certification for the qualification.
The best available result for each contributing unit will count towards
the final grade.
For internally assessed units students will need to retake the entire
assessment requirements for that unit.
Results of units will be held in Edexcel’s unit bank for as many years
as this specification remains available. Once the qualification has
been certificated, all unit results are deemed to be used up at that
level. These results cannot be used again towards a further award of
the same qualification at the same.
Language of assessment
Assessment of this specification will be available in English only.
Assessment materials will be published in English only and all work
submitted for examination and moderation must be produced in
English.
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Quality of written communication
Students will be assessed on their ability to:
• write legibly, with accurate use of spelling, grammar and
punctuation in order to make the meaning clear
• select and use a form and style of writing appropriate to purpose
and to complex subject matter
• organise relevant information clearly and coherently, using
specialist vocabulary when appropriate.
Stretch and challenge
Students can be stretched and challenged in all units through the use
of different assessment strategies, for example:
• using a variety of stems in questions – for example analyse,
evaluate, discuss, compare
• use of a wider range of question types to address different skills –
for example calculations and graphical questions etc.
Malpractice and plagiarism
For up-to-date advice on malpractice and plagiarism, please refer to
the Joint Council for Qualifications Suspected Malpractice in
Examinations: Policies and Procedures document on the JCQ
website http://www.jcq.org.uk/
Student recruitment
Edexcel’s access policy concerning recruitment to our qualifications
is that:
• they must be available to anyone who is capable of reaching the
required standard
• they must be free from barriers that restrict access and
progression
• equal opportunities exist for all students.
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Progression
GCSE in Astronomy students could progress to the following:
• GCE AS and Advanced Level in Physics
• Level 3 Extended Project
• other science-related courses at Level 3.
GCSE in Astronomy provides a sound basis for the first year of
degree-level astronomy-related courses.
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Grade descriptions
Grade A
Candidates recall, select and communicate detailed knowledge and
thorough understanding of astronomical content and How Science Works
across all areas of the specification. They use astronomical terminology
appropriately and accurately.
They apply appropriate knowledge and understanding of a wide range of
astronomical concepts and recognise and understand the relationships
between data, evidence, theories and scientific explanations. They
recognise that there are areas of uncertainty in astronomical knowledge
and understand that scientific theories can be changed by new evidence.
They select and use effectively a wide range of mathematical skills.
They select and use astronomical knowledge and understanding to plan
and carry out an effective scientific task using appropriate equipment
safely. They use effectively a wide range of relevant skills and
appropriate techniques to collect, record and present a range of original
and secondary data. They analyse and interpret information that is
consistent with their evidence, and critically evaluate its validity. They
reflect on the limitations of their evidence and suggest improvements to
their methods that would enable them to collect more valid and reliable
data.
Grade C
Candidates recall, select and communicate knowledge and understanding
of astronomical content and How Science Works across most areas of the
specification. They use astronomical terms appropriately.
They apply their knowledge and understanding of astronomical concepts
and recognise and understand the relationships between data, evidence,
theories and scientific explanations. They are aware that scientific
theories can be developed by new evidence. They select and use a variety
of appropriate mathematical skills.
They use astronomical knowledge and understanding to plan a scientific
task using appropriate equipment. They use appropriate techniques to
collect, record and present original and secondary data. They analyse and
interpret information, and perform some evaluation of its validity. They
reflect on the limitations of their evidence and suggest improvements to
their methods.
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Grade F
Candidates recall, select and communicate knowledge and some limited
aspects of understanding of astronomical content and how science works
across some areas of the specification. They communicate their ideas
using everyday language.
They apply their understanding of a limited number of simple
astronomical concepts. They are aware that science can explain many
phenomena. They use a limited number of basic mathematical skills.
They use limited astronomical knowledge to carry out a simple scientific
task. They use standard techniques to collect, record and present a limited
selection of data. They interpret evidence to reach some basic
conclusions.
Edexcel GCSE in Astronomy
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49
C
Resources, support and training
Edexcel resources
Edexcel aims to provide the most comprehensive support for our
qualifications.
You can find out more information about our published resources at
www.edexcel.org.uk/gcse2009-astronomy.
Edexcel publications
You can order further copies of the Specification, Sample Assessment
Materials (SAMs) and Teacher’s Guide documents from:
Edexcel Publications
Adamsway
Mansfield
Nottinghamshire NG18 4FN
Telephone: 01623 467467
Fax:
01623 450481
Email:
[email protected]
Website:
www.edexcel.org.uk
Endorsed resources
Edexcel also endorses some additional materials written to support
this qualification. Any resources bearing the Edexcel logo have been
through a quality assurance process to ensure complete and accurate
support for the specification. For up-to-date information about
endorsed resources, please visit www.edexcel.org.uk/endorsed
Please note that while resources are checked at the time of
publication, materials may be withdrawn from circulation and
website locations may change.
Edexcel support services
Edexcel has a wide range of support services to help you implement
this qualification successfully.
ResultsPlus – ResultsPlus is an application launched by Edexcel to
help subject teachers, senior management teams, and students by
providing detailed analysis of examination performance. Reports that
compare performance between subjects, classes, your centre and
similar centres can be generated in ‘one-click’. Skills maps that show
performance according to the specification topic being tested are
available for some subjects. For further information about which
50
Edexcel GCSE in Astronomy
Specification
© Edexcel Limited 2008
subjects will be analysed through ResultsPlus, and for information on
how to access and use the service, please visit
www.edexcel.org.uk/resultsplus.
Ask the Expert – Ask the Expert is a new service, launched in 2007,
that provides direct email access to senior subject specialists who will
be able to answer any questions you might have about this or any
other specification. All of our specialists are senior examiners,
moderators or verifiers and they will answer your email personally.
You can read a biography for all of them and learn more about this
unique service on our website at www.edexcel.org.uk/asktheexpert.
Ask Edexcel – Ask Edexcel is Edexcel’s online question and answer
service. You can access it at www.edexcel.org.uk/ask or by going to
the main website and selecting the Ask Edexcel menu item on the
left.
The service allows you to search through a database of thousands of
questions and answers on everything Edexcel offers. If you don’t find
an answer to your question, you can choose to submit it straight to us.
One of our customer services team will log your query, find an
answer and send it to you. They’ll also consider adding it to the
database if appropriate. This way the volume of helpful information
that can be accessed via the service is growing all the time.
Examzone – The Examzone site is aimed at students sitting external
examinations and gives information on revision, advice from
examiners and guidance on results, including re-marking, re-sitting
and progression opportunities. Further services for students – many of
which will also be of interest to parents – will be available in the near
future. Links to this site can be found on the main homepage at
www.examzone.co.uk.
Training
A programme of professional development and training courses,
covering various aspects of the specification and examination, will be
arranged by Edexcel each year on a regional basis. Full details can be
obtained from:
Professional Development and Training
Edexcel
One90 High Holborn
London WC1V 7BH
Telephone: 0844 576 0027
Email:
[email protected]
Website:
www.edexcel.org.uk
Edexcel GCSE in Astronomy
Specification
© Edexcel Limited 2008
51
D
52
Appendices
Appendix 1
Key skills
54
Appendix 2
Wider curriculum
55
Appendix 3
Codes
57
Appendix 4
How Science Works mapping
58
Appendix 5
Controlled assessment record sheet
60
Appendix 6
Mathematical skills, data and formulae
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53
Appendix 1
Key skills
Signposting
Key skills (Level 2)
Application of number
Unit 1
Unit 2
N2.1
9
9
N2.2
9
9
N2.3
9
9
C2.1a
9
9
C2.1b
9
9
C2.2
9
C2.3
9
Communication
Information and communication technology
ICT2.1
9
9
ICT2.2
9
9
ICT2.3
9
9
LP2.1
9
9
LP2.2
9
9
LP2.3
9
9
PS2.1
9
9
PS2.2
9
9
PS2.3
9
9
Improving own learning and performance
Problem solving
Working with others
WO2.1
9
WO2.2
9
WO2.3
9
Development suggestions
For further information on development of key skills please refer to
our website: www.edexcel.org.uk
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Appendix 2
Wider curriculum
Signposting
Issue
Unit 1
Ethical
9
Cultural
9
Citizenship
9
Environmental
9
European initiatives
9
Health and safety
9
Unit 2
9
9
Development suggestions
Issue
Unit
Opportunities for development or internal assessment
Ethical
Unit1
Ethical awareness will be developed through the context of:
• whether to send manned or unmanned craft into space on
particular missions.
Cultural
Unit 1
Cultural awareness will be developed through the context of:
• the different cultural backgrounds of astronomers who made
significant discoveries, for example Galileo
• how our understanding of astronomy has developed over
time, by contributions from different astronomers around the
world.
Citizenship
Unit 1
Awareness of citizenship will be developed through the context
of:
• the organisations involved in space missions and how they
work together to collect more detailed information, for
example collaborations between NASA and ESA.
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Issue
Unit
Opportunities for development or internal assessment
Environmental
Unit 1
Environmental awareness will be developed through the context
of:
• conservation of energy
• effects of light pollution
• space rubbish.
Unit 2
Environmental awareness is primarily concerned with:
•
European initiatives
Unit 1
effects of light pollution.
European and global initiatives can be further investigated
through students:
• accessing current developments by professional astronomers
• keeping up-to-date with the work of the European Space
Agency (ESA).
This dimension is also supported through:
• addressing the issue of atmospheric pollution and considering
the implications of European legislation.
Health and safety
Unit 1
Health and safety awareness will be developed through practical
work and will include issues such as:
• hazards involved in observing the Sun and the Moon
• safety whilst making observations at night.
Unit 2
Health and safety awareness will build on Unit 1 but will also
require students to consider:
• the safety of themselves and others
• undertaking risk assessments.
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Appendix 3
Codes
Type of code
Use of code
Code number
National
classification codes
Every qualification is assigned to a national
classification code indicating the subject area to which
it belongs. Centres should be aware that students who
enter for more than one GCSE qualification with the
same classification code will have only one grade (the
highest) counted for the purpose of the school and
college performance tables.
1690
National
Qualifications
Framework (NQF)
codes
Each qualification title is allocated a QCA National
Qualifications Framework (NQF) code.
The QANs for the
qualifications in this
publication are:
Unit codes
Each unit is assigned a unit code. This unit code is
used as an entry code to indicate that a student wishes
to take the assessment for that unit. Centres will need
to use the entry codes only when entering students for
their examination.
Unit 1 – 5AS01
Cash-in codes
The cash-in code is used as an entry code to aggregate
the student’s unit scores to obtain the overall grade for
the qualification. Centres will need to use the entry
codes only when entering students for their
qualification.
GCSE – 2AS01
Entry codes
The entry codes are used to:
Please refer to the Edexcel
Information Manual,
available on the Edexcel
website.
The QCA National Qualifications Framework (NQF)
code is known as a Qualification Accreditation
Number (QAN). This is the code that features in the
DfES Funding Schedule, Sections 96 and 97, and is to
be used for all qualification funding purposes. The
QCA QAN is the number that will appear on the
student’s final certification documentation.
• enter a student for the assessment of a unit
• aggregate the student’s unit or component scores to
obtain the overall grade for the qualification.
Edexcel GCSE in Astronomy
Specification
GCSE – xxx/xxxx/x
Unit 2 – 5AS02
© Edexcel Limited 2008
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Appendix 4
How Science Works mapping
How Science Works reference
Specification reference
Unit 1
1 The collection and analysis of scientific
data.
Unit 2
Topic 1
Topic 2
Topic 3
Topic 4
1.1e
2.2m
3.2f
4.1d
1.2e
2.3e
3.2n
4.2h
1.3j
2.4a
3.3k
1.4k
2.4e
3.3n
9
3.3o
3.4e
2 The interpretation of data, using
creative thought, to provide evidence
for testing ideas and developing
theories.
1.1e
2.1l
3.3n
1.1n
2.4f
4.3m
1.2h
2.4g
4.3n
1.2m
4.3l
4.3p
1.3g
1.3h
3 Many phenomena can be explained by
developing and using scientific theories,
models and ideas.
1.2d
2.1c
3.1e
4.2d
1.4d
2.1k
3.2l
4.3b
1.4f
2.3c
3.3a
4.3e
1.4g
2.4g
3.3e
4.3k
3.3q
4.3n
3.4a
4.3o
9
4.3p
4 There are some questions that science
cannot currently answer and some that
science cannot address.
4.3l
4.3m
5 Planning to test a scientific idea, answer
a scientific question, or solve a
scientific problem.
6 Collecting data from primary or
secondary sources, including the use of
ICT sources and tools.
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Edexcel GCSE in Astronomy
3.2g
9
3.2i
3.3i
1.2k
2.1l
3.3d
3.3i
4.3j
9
3.3n
Specification
© Edexcel Limited 2008
How Science Works reference
Specification reference
Unit 1
Topic 1
7 Working accurately and safely,
individually and with others, when
collecting first-hand data.
Topic 2
1.3a
Unit 2
Topic 3
Topic 4
3.2j
9
8 Evaluating methods of data collection
and considering their validity and
reliability as evidence.
9
9 Recalling, analysing, interpreting,
applying and questioning scientific
information or ideas.
10 Using both qualitative and quantitative
approaches.
4.3a
9
1.4j
2.3c
3.3j
1.4l
2.3f
3.3l
4.3h
9
2.4f
11 Presenting information, developing an
argument and drawing a conclusion,
using scientific, technical and
mathematical language, conventions
and symbols and ICT tools.
1.1g
14 How uncertainties in scientific
knowledge and scientific ideas change
over time and the role of the scientific
community in validating these
changes.
4.2b
3.2n
9
3.3j
3.3l
12 The use of contemporary science and
technological developments and their
benefits, drawbacks and risks.
13 How and why decisions about science
and technology are made, including
those that raise ethical issues, and
about the social, economic and
environmental effects of such
decisions.
3.2f
2.1m
2.2k
2.2l
1.1j
2.4f
1.1l
1.1o
1.1e
2.3a
1.1p
2.4b
4.3l
2.4f
4.3m
3.1c
4.3f
4.3o
4.3p
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Appendix 5
Controlled assessment record sheet
GCSE in Astronomy – Unit 2 (5AS02)
Examination year
Centre name
Centre number
Candidate name
Candidate number
Two observations are to be completed: one unaided and one aided.
Unaided observation
Task title: ______________________________________________________________________
Number: ___________________
Design
Observation
/5
Analysis
/5
Evaluation
/5
TOTAL
/5
/20
Aided observation
Task title: _______________________________________________________________________
Number: ___________________
Design
Observation
/5
Analysis
/5
Evaluation
/5
TOTAL
/5
/20
MAXIMUM MARK
/40
Signed (teacher): ____________________________ Name of teacher: _______________________
Date: __________________________
Please attach this controlled assessment record sheet to the student’s work before submitting it to the
moderator.
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Appendix 6
Mathematical skills, data and formulae
Mathematical skills
Students need to have been taught, and to have acquired, competence
in the areas of mathematics as set out in this appendix. This is to
develop the related knowledge, understanding and skills in the subject
content.
Students are permitted to use calculators in the written examination,
in accordance with the current regulations.
For the purpose of this qualification it is assumed that students will have the ability to:
• evaluate expressions incorporating the four operations, +, −, x, ÷,
either singly or in conjunction with one another, quoting the
answer to an appropriate number of significant figures
• evaluate expressions involving simple proportion, decimals,
fractions and percentages
• understand and use logarithms (base 10) in equations and as
scales to graphs
• manipulate formulae, equations and expressions
• plot and draw graphs from suitable data, selecting appropriate
scales for the axes
• interpret graphs in terms of general trends and by interpolation
• interpret a range of graphs and diagrams
• use an electronic calculator in connection with any of the above
as appropriate
• understand and use direct and inverse proportion.
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Data
This data is found within the topics of Unit 1. Students are expected to recall these values for
use within the examination if needed.
Diameter of the Earth
13000 km
Diameter of the Moon
3500 km
Diameter of the Sun
1.4 million km
Distance from the Moon to the Earth
380 000 km
Distance from the Sun to the Earth
150 million km
One astronomical unit (AU) is the mean distance between the Earth
and Sun
Rotation period of the Earth
150 million km
Time for the Earth to rotate through 1 degree
4 minutes
The Moon’s rotational period and orbital period
27.3 days
The period of the lunar phase cycle
29.5 days
Temperature of the Sun’s photosphere
5800k
Approximate temperature of the corona
2 million K
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Formulae
These formulae are found within the topics of Unit 1. The formulae will be given in the
examination questions if needed.
Kepler’s third law
T2 = R3
where T is in years and R is in AU
Circumpolar stars
declination > 90 – latitude
Magnitude calculations
M = m + 5 - 5 log d
where m is apparent magnitude, M is absolute magnitude and d is distance (parsecs).
Radial velocity of a galaxy
λ − λ0 v
=
λ0
c
where v is the radial velocity, c is the speed of light, λ is wavelength and λ0 is the rest
wavelength.
Hubble’s Law
v = Hd
where v is velocity, d is distance and H is the Hubble constant.
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Acknowledgements
This specification has been produced by Edexcel on the basis of consultation with teachers,
examiners, consultants and other interested parties. Edexcel would like to thank all those who
contributed their time and expertise to its development.
References to third-party material made in this specification are made in good faith. Edexcel
does not endorse, approve or accept responsibility for the content of materials, which may be
subject to change, or any opinions expressed therein. (Material may include textbooks, journals,
magazines and other publications and websites.)
Authorised by Roger Beard
Prepared by Sarah Harrison
Publications code UG020504
All the material in this publication is copyright
© Edexcel Limited 2008
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Telephone 01623 467467
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Publications Code UG020504 September 2008
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